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Jewish Population in Greater New York Numbers 1,728,000, Jewish Communal Survey Shows

March 14, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish population in Greater New York was placed at 1,728,000, on the basis of estimates in the Jewish Communal Survey of Greater New York, the results of which were made public yesterday by the Bureau of Jewish Social Reteatch.

Broolyn has supplanted Manhattan as the center of Jewish population and “for one time to come will have to be the new locus of attention” as far as a Jewish communal program is concerned, according to the first section of the survey.

In the statistical tables of the survey the steady economic growth of the Jewish community is shown. The onward march from the tenement districts of the lower East Side is portrayed in chart form and the story in figures describes the movement to Yorkville, Harlem, Bronx and into the Park Avenue section.

The survey, which was undertaken almost two years ago at the direction of a Citizens’ Committee, of which Judge Otto A. Rosalsky is chairman and Dr. Lee K. Frankel is chairman of the executive committee, was made by a staff of fifty research workers headed by Samuel A. Goldsmith, executive director of the bureau. It includes in addition to a study of the movement of the Jewish population of the five boroughs, a study of mortality among the Jews and an evaluation of communal resources in the fields of child care, family welfare, health, delinquency work, community organization, recreation, and Jewish education.

On the basis of calculations of the school population of Jewish children, as prepared for 1925 by the Jewish Education Association, the survey places the gericral Jewish population at 1,728,000. In that year, the study reveals, Brooklyn had 45.6 percent of the Jewish population of New York City. Manhattan was second with twenty-eight percent and the Bronx, with twenty-two percent, was third. Queens, according to the latest figures, has three percent and Richmond one-fifth of one percent.

In 1916, according to the study, there were 696,000 Jews in Manhattan; in 1925 there were 499,500, or a decrease of 28.3 percent within the decade. Manhattan was divided into eight borough sections by the workers for the purpose of the study, as follows: Lower East Side, Central East Side, Lower West Side, West End, Yorkville, Harlem, West Harlem and Washington Heights. Of these eight sections, Washington Heights alone showed an increase in the number of Jews, from 24,511 in 1915 to 41,320 in 1925, or a gain of 68,6 percent.

Of Manhattan’s Jewish population, 52.9 percent lives on the Lower East Side and in Harlem, as against 50.3 percent in 1916, but in the earlier year the Lower East Side had 23.5 percent of all of New York City’s Jews, as compared with 15.2 percent in 1925. Similarly, although Harlem’s Jews made up twenty-three percent of Manhattan Jewry in 1925 as against 21.4 percent in 1915, they decreased from 9.9 percent of the Jewish population of the entire city in 1916 to 6.6 percent in 1925.

The Jewish population of Greater New York constitutes thirty percent of the city’s total population. Over the decade ending in 1925, New York City’s population increase was 16.4 percent and the increase in Jewish population was similar.

Decentralization of New York City’s Jewish population is cited as the most striking feature of the population drift. This distribution, the study states, has been due to a direct movement from congested to middle-class areas. The Lower East Side, Harlem, Yorkville, Williamsburg and Willoughby sections have all lost Jewish population and South Bronx and Brownsville have barely held their own; while Tremont, Fordham, Eastern Parkway, Flatbush and North Flatbush “have flourished mightily”. The movement in Manhattan has been out of the Lower East Side and Harlem, the two most populous areas, the survey shows. In the Bronx it has been northward and westward into the Tremont, Fordham and Grand Concourse district. South Bronx evidently has ceased growing in Jewish population, while Tremont has become more populous as a Jewish center than Harlem.

In Brooklyn, the Jewish population has spread south and west over the Borough into Borough Park, Eastern Parkway, Bath Beach, the Flatbushes and Coney Island. The Brooklyn movement has all been into the one-family, two-family and apartment house sections. “Brooklyn,” the survey declares, “has indicated sharply the method of Jewish population trends. Original settlements are made into regions with one-family, houses, such as North Flatbush and more recently Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton. The next wave moves into two-family houses. The final wave is an apartment house population, because the rise in land values forbids the erection of smaller dwellings.”

While less in number than the Jews of Brooklyn, Bronx Jews make up 44.7 percent of the northern borough’s general population, the Brooklyn Jews constituting only 36.3 percent of that borough’s population. The Manhattan Jewish ratio is 25.7 percent, while for Queens and Richmond the ratios are eight and 2.5 percent respectively.

An examination of density by boroughs indicates that there are some borough sections in the city whose population is almost entirely Jewish. Of the five sections whose Jewish populations are at least seventy-five percent of the total, four are in Brooklyn and the other is in the Bronx. Coney Island, with its Jwish residents representing 96.7 percent of the total population, comes closest to being altogether Jewish. The Tremont section, in the Bronx, is second, 96.4 of all its residents being Jews. Brownsville, with ninety-five percent, is third; and Williamsburg, with eighty-one percent, is fourth, and the New Lots section, with 78.5 percent Jewish, ranks fifth. Coney Island, Tremont and New Lots, the survey declares, are new developments and will no doubt continue Jewish, while Brownsville and Williamsburg, older settlements, probably will show population replacements by other groups within the near future. This already has taken place on the Lower East Side, where the Jews were found to make up only 73.3 percent of the section’s total population.

Of the five sections, where the Jews constitute between seventy-four and fifty percent of the section’s population, two are in the Bronx, two in Brooklyn, and one in Manhattan. The East Side, Lower Central Bronx, and Willoughby are older settlements whose Jewish character probably will be less obvious in the near future, according to the study, while Bath Beach and Upper Central Bronx may be expected to become more Jewish in population.

For the remaining twenty-two sections of the city, the following newer residential neighborhoods, the survey states, may be expected to attract Jewish populations for some time to come; Eastern Parkway, at present 48.8 percent Jewish; Borough Park, 46.1 percent Jewish; Flatbush, 43.8 percent Jewish; Grand Concourse, 28.1 percent Jewish; Fordham, 23.9 percent Jewish; Washington Heights 23.9 percent Jewish; North Flatbush, 23.9 percent Jewish; East Flatbush, 16.7 percent Jewish; Fort Hamilton, 11.7 percent Jewish; and North Bronx, 9.9 percent Jewish.

Some sections either have stood still or lost Jewish population and the survey predicts that their Jewish character either will decline or remain unimportant. Among these sections are Harlem, South Bronx, Bushwick, Yorkville, Ridgewood, Central East Side, Greenpoint, West End, South Brooklyn, Lower West Side, West Harlem, Bay Ridge.

Subsequent sections of the survey which will be made public tomorrow describe the distribution of the Jewish population as to age groups and seek to ascertain the principal causes of death among Jews.

The survey was undertaken at a cost of $200,000 and the funds for the research work are being supplied by volunteer contributions. Chairmen of the various sections include Felix M. Warburg, recreation: Judge Willaim N. Cohen, childcare; Fred M. Stein, health; Mrs. Sidney C. Borg, family welfare; Ludwig Vogelstein, Jewish education and Judge Otto A. Rosalsky, Community Organization.

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